Off-Grid Solar Electric Systems
Maine Solar Solutions has a design and installation team experienced with Off-Grid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems. These systems have unique design and operation requirements, making them more challenging to install and service than a more common “Grid-Tied” solar electric system. They require more components and will cost more compared to a Grid-Tied system. We have outlined the options below to ensure you get the information you need to decide what type of solar system will work best for you.
Many people like the idea of installing an off-grid solar system because of its independence. However, a lifestyle change will most likely require reducing energy consumption as you cannot rely on the grid. These systems are most popular in rural locations such as camps or where the nearest power line may be miles away. You will need batteries to store your energy, must monitor the battery’s health, and be aware that you have a finite amount of energy you can collect and store daily. These systems have special design and operation requirements making them more challenging to install and service than a more common grid-tied system. They also require more components and usually cost more.
Installing a grid-tied solar electric system is an excellent step towards energy independence. However, during a power outage, your system does not provide power. By pairing a grid-tied solar electric system with battery backup, you can bank the energy you produce for times when you need it, like when the grid goes down. Although whole-house backup is achievable, most grid-tied battery backup systems are designed only to power “critical” electrical loads. If you are thinking about going solar now but want to add batteries in the future, we can design your system to accommodate your future battery needs. These systems are more costly than grid-tied alone.
These are the most common type of solar electric systems in Maine. With this system, your home can be powered by the sun when it is shining. You are still connected to your utility provider (often called the grid), so you still have power when sunlight is unavailable. Net Metering allows the electricity generated by your solar system to offset the electricity used from the grid at night or on a cloudy day. This ensures that all of your system’s electricity offsets your usage and, ultimately, your electric bill. However, if the grid goes down, your system will shut off, and you will lose power. Grid-tied systems are the less expensive option due to not needing batteries and other additional equipment.
Planning For An Off-Grid Solar PV System
Off-Grid solar PV systems are designed to collect, store, and deliver electrical supply without any connection to the utility grid. Off-Grid differs from other battery backup solutions because it is the primary source of power and must be able to deliver 100% of the energy needs required by a site. Off-grid systems are used in rural or wilderness locations where the nearest power line may be miles away.
An off-grid system, on the other hand, has a finite amount of energy it can collect and store, so you must monitor your battery health and be aware of the solar resource available while using energy. You must also be capable of charging your battery from an alternative source, such as a generator.
What Are The Components Of An Off-Grid Solar PV System?
An off-grid system has three major components: the Battery, the PV array, and the Inverter. The battery is your storage bank and provides energy when the sun is down at night or during times of rain or clouds throughout the year. The PV array charges the battery with energy when the sun shines and should be large enough to fill your battery on one sunny day at any time of year. The inverter converts the stored battery DC energy into household AC power which is used by most appliances.
An off-grid system is a vitally important part of your camp or home—it may be the primary power
source for light, communication, water, and kitchen loads. An off-grid system has many moving parts and factors that can affect performance or fail, so it will be important you understand how your system works together.
Living with an Off-Grid Solar PV system will require patience, compromise, and attention.
The average residential home in the US uses 30 kWh per day. To successfully live off-grid, you will need to reduce this amount significantly. The primary way to do this is by removing electric loads, primarily electric heat sources, whenever possible. Electric ovens/ranges, water heaters, heat pumps, and space heaters should never be considered on an off-grid system.
Going Off-Grid With Maine Solar Solutions
If you are considering purchasing or designing an off-grid system in Maine, please fill out the form below or call us at (207) 871-7191. Through our consultative process, you can find out if going off-grid is right for you and which system options will be best suited for your property